17 April, 2024

The Best Sermon I Never Heard

by | 27 March, 2024 | 2 comments

(This is an excerpt from Ozark Christian College President Matt Proctor’s message at the International Conference On Missions at Oklahoma City, Okla., in November 2023.)  

By Matt Proctor

Can I tell you about the best sermon I never heard? If I could time travel just once—if I could go back to any moment in history—I would go back to Luke 24. On that very first Easter Sunday, as the sun is sinking low in the west, the resurrected Jesus is walking on the road to Emmaus, talking with two travelers. These two disciples had read their Bible, but they had never really understood their Bibles. 

So, Luke 24:27 tells us what Jesus did. “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets”—which is a Hebrew way of saying that Jesus started at the front of his Bible and went all the way to the back of his Bible—“[Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” 

Wow! Can you imagine this church service?  

“Who’s the preacher today?” Jesus.  

“What’s his text?” The whole Bible.  

“What’s his topic?” Himself.  

This has to be the greatest sermon ever preached! I wish I could have been there. And even though this is the best sermon I never heard, I’m guessing that Jesus could’ve said something like this . . . 

JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 

In the book of Genesis, I am there: the Word of God creating the heavens and the earth. In the book of Exodus, I am there: the Passover lamb whose blood is sprinkled on the doorpost to save you from death. In Leviticus, I am there: your great high priest. In Numbers, I am there: your ever-present guide—a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. I am the one lifted high in the wilderness, saving all who look on me from the serpent’s poison. In Deuteronomy, I am there: the coming prophet greater than Moses. I am the city of refuge to which the guilty may run. 

In Joshua, I am commander of the angel armies, the captain of the Lord’s host. In Judges, I am Ehud’s dagger, I am Shamgar’s ox goad, I am Samson’s jawbone, I am Gideon’s sword—I am Israel’s true deliverer from all her enemies. In Ruth, I am the kinsman redeemer. In 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, I am the coming son of David. In 1 Kings and 2 Kings, I am the one greater than King Solomon. In 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, I am the shekinah glory of God filling the temple. In Ezra and Nehemiah, I am the rebuilder of all things broken, and in Esther, I am the unseen protector of my people. 

In Job, I am the redeemer who lives, the only true comfort in times of trouble. In Psalms, I am the good shepherd, who makes you lie down in green pastures and leads you beside quiet waters and restores your soul. In Proverbs, I am the wisdom of God, and in Ecclesiastes, I am the end of the matter, the only true meaning in life. In Song of Solomon—and yes, I am in the Song of Solomon—in Song of Solomon, I am the rose of Sharon, the fairest of 10,000, the glorious bridegroom coming to take my beautiful bride home. 

In Isaiah, I am wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace, and I am the suffering servant, pierced for your transgressions, crushed for your iniquities. By my wounds, you are healed. In Jeremiah, I am the potter, patiently molding the stubborn clay. In Lamentations, in the midst of your tears, I give you mercies new every morning. In Ezekiel, I am the wind blowing from the four corners of the earth into the valley of the dry bones, resurrecting them to new life. In Daniel, I am the fourth man in the furnace—that was me! And by the way, Daniel was not in the lion’s den. The lions were in my den! I was there. 

In Hosea, when my wayward wife breaks my heart again and again, I am the faithful husband who welcomes her home. In Joel, I am the one who restores the years the locust have eaten. In Amos, I restore the exiles. In Obadiah, I am the judge. In Jonah, I am the true missionary. In Micah, I am the ruler born in little Bethlehem. In Nahum, I am your avenger. In Habbakuk, I am your strength. In Zephaniah, I am your mighty warrior. In Haggai, I am the desire of all nations. In Zechariah, I am the cleansing fountain, and in Malachi, I am the sun of righteousness, risen with healing in my wings. Before Abraham was, I am, and “these are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39). 

JESUS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 

And if Jesus were to step off that road to Emmaus and step onto this stage tonight, he could say: In Matthew, I am there, the prophesied King. In Mark, I am that powerful servant who heals the sick, feeds the hungry, conquers the demons, and raises the dead. In Luke, I am the Son of Man, full of compassion, who eats with prostitutes and prodigals and tax collectors and sinners. And in John, I am the Word made flesh. I am the vine, the bread of life. I am the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. In Acts, I am the one who meets Saul on that road to Damascus. I am the one who turns the church’s greatest persecutor into the church’s greatest preacher. 

A drawing of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, titled Der Gang nach Emmaus, by Karl Gangloff, September 1813; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In Romans, I am your justification. In 1 Corinthians, I am your sanctification. In 2 Corinthians, I am your reconciliation. In Galatians, I am your liberation, and in Ephesians, I am your unification. In Philippians, I am the one who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be held on to, but I made myself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. In Colossians, I am the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation and the firstborn from among the dead so that in all things I might have the supremacy. 

In 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians, I am the coming king. In 1 Timothy, I am the one mediator between God and man. In 2 Timothy, I am the one who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. In Titus, I am the God who does not lie. In Philemon, I am the one who turns slaves and masters into brothers. 

In Hebrews, I am the author and perfecter of your faith, the same yesterday and today and forever. In James—oh, my dear, hardheaded brother James—in James, I am the glorious power that transforms faith into deeds. In 1 Peter, I am the Chief Shepherd. In 2 Peter, I am the patient Lord who wants no one to perish. In 1, 2, and 3 John, I am the Word of life. In Jude, I am the one who is able to keep you from falling. In Revelation, I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the bright and morning star. I am the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and I am the Lamb who was slain from before the foundation of the world. I am Revelation’s Righteous Warrior returning on a white warhorse. My eyes are like blazing fire, on my head are many crowns, I am dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and on my robe and on my thigh, I have this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords. On every page of this book, I AM. 

Oh, church: this book is all about him! This is the Jesus book! The written Word was given to show us the Living Word, and these are “the Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). The nations are crying out, “Is there any hope?” and our job is to take them the answer. It’s in this book, and his name is Jesus. 

2 Comments

  1. Debbie Mitchell

    Amen and Amen!

  2. Karen Kskac

    I didn’t realize this digital edition was available. I hope to read more of the Christian news articles.

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